Designer Profile: Ramzi Musa
‘Garments are an interesting way of presenting art’- Ramzi Musa
It’s rare that you hear Cinderella fashion stories. Like the one about the designer who created his capsule collection for one of the UK’s biggest e-tailers before he’d even completed his degree. Step forward Ramzi Musa, 21 year old wonderkid artiste and 3rd year Fine Art student at Leeds University. Musa’s first collaborative SS11 collection with Browns Focus hit stores in February and his digitally-inspired designs have been getting fashionistas in a right old spin since. We sat down with the man himself to chat about not studying fashion, graphic novels and loving H&M…
Hi Ramzi, so tell us where you’re from and what you study?
I’m from Kent and am currently studying Fine Art at Leeds. I studied art throughout school, despite many people advising me against it. I’m also really interested in history and psychology, which is reflected in the Freudian-inspired prints I’m currently working on. Art has always been my passion, though. I immersed myself in it from a young age, selling artwork and gaining knowledge on what people look for. I started viewing it in an unusual way, especially under the teachings of Nick Gorman who I credit for my understanding of the use of colour.
How did the collaboration with Browns Focus happen?
To make money during my first year I started making portraits of people through Facebook. I wanted to create the opposite of the idea of complementing the subject. At the time I was reading a lot of graphic novels like ‘Watchmen’. I hated the idea of the traditional portrait, so they weren’t meant to be flattering; quite the opposite! Browns saw them and it went from there. Then I started making T-shirt designs and the collection progressed naturally. To me, garments are an interesting way of presenting art. You can put the same image on a garment and in a gallery and it can have a completely different effect. The prints were taken from paintings, water colours and sketches – nothing was completely digital.
Tell us about the collection:
My portrait ‘You want flowers, you got flowers, now eat it’ inspired the collection. It’s fun, vibrant, colourful and brash. In some ways the brashness comes from the fact that I’m a guy making a woman’s collection, which is reflected in some of the heavy-handed brush strokes for example. My favourite pieces are those in leopard print; when I was doing it I didn’t labour over it and the pattern works really well, especially on the scarves.
What inspires you?
People who have the balls to do something new, something that not everyone will like. In terms of design I’m usually inspired by looking closer at things that seem like mundane objects – I tend to always look at things differently.
Is there anyone else you’d like to work with?
I’d like to work with H&M. I like that their clothes aren’t ridiculously expensive. I also love the accessibility of their pieces and the fact that anyone can wear them.
Who is the Ramzi Musa woman?
Someone who is fun, bubbly and confident, but not arrogant. Someone who is young at heart and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
It’s not what you mean to do that matters, it’s what you actually do.
Any advice for up and coming designers?
Never shy away from opportunities to show and promote your work, and no matter what reactions you receive, always keep trying. Some people may have thought I was being a show-off or arrogant for being passionate and confident in my work, but it paid off!
What’s next for you?
I’d love to gain more knowledge on the design side of things and eventually start my own label. I’d also love to design menswear, focusing especially on areas where print works well, such as linings, cravats and scarves.
Words: Jacqueline Anyanwu
Images: Ramzi Musa Art
Having worked for the UK Fashion & Textiles Association advising British fashion companies on strategies to expand business for the past 10 years, Maria Alvarez, Executive Director and founding member of Fashion Awareness Direct (FAD) has been helping young people bridge the gap between education and industry. We sat down to pick her brain about business, Markus Lupfer and good old-fashioned self promotion.
Here are her 5 things every designer should know:
With thanks to Maria Alvarez at FAD
Words: Jacqueline Anyanwu
What better time to find out exactly what Britain’s second best-dressed man gets up to than on the first day of London Fashion Week? We followed Matthew Zorpas around like a lost puppy, shadowing his fabulous, front row-filled day…
“This season I’m wearing new, up-and-coming designers throughout LFW; Liria Pristine, Dimos Natar, Harald Lunde Helgesen and DanDan to name a few. It’s always exciting relaying feedback and the overall buzz about their creations to the unassuming designers, and there’s no better place to showcase their work than at LFW!
Today I’m wearing a gold suit and customised gold and silver bauble-cuff shirt by Marios Alexander. Marios’ collection is shaped around the idea of the ‘role’ and explores how clown costumes can be transformed in order to create an alternative fashion statement. His metallic colour range reflects the life of the modern man and captures an essence of romanticism.”
8.30am: Hoxton Station
“I’m not sure if it was because of the adrenalin but I got up at 5am! I meet the film crew at Hoxton station and the chiming baubles on my shirt have already caused quite a stir amongst my fellow commuters! I think I’m too eager to get to Somerset house because I depart at Tower Hill – the wrong station!”
9:00am: Somerset House
“I arrive at Somerset House, the fashion mecca! Immediately it’s time for ‘business’ as I’m stopped by photographer Paul Hartnett (of WSGN fame). I have to tell the growing pack of waiting photographers that unfortunately they’ll have to wait until later, or I’ll miss the Paul Costelloe show at 9am!”
11:00am: The Jena.Theo show
“We’re off to the new on/off venue for Jena.Theo. I’m sat front row amongst fashionable friends, and take the opportunity to catch up with stylist Kristine Kilty and bloggers Jenny Hayden and Reena Rai. Denim and war-paint pieces and elements of 1980’s cinema take over the catwalk for their collection”
1.45pm: The Corrie Nielsen show
“Again I’m sat front row at Corrie Nielsen, last year’s Fashion Fringe winner. From here I get to fully admire the Victorian-inspired theatrics of the show. It’s probably my favourite collection today… give me structured shapes, volume and an aristocratic mood any day, and I’m pleased!”
“A very late lunch with the fash pack. I discuss shows with PR Alize Morand, ASOS buyers and my dear friend Imran Amed (of The Business of Fashion) who is desperately trying to find wireless access – the work never ends! It’s very common to survive solely on Vitamin Water during LFW, so if the food at Tom’s kitchen passes your lips, count yourself very lucky!”
6:30pm: The Bora Asku show
“I received a personal invite from designer and good friend Liria Pristine, who is styling consultant for the show, so I’m very keen to see it. Continuing the Victorian trend, the collection focuses heavily on men’s tailoring, inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!”
7:30pm: The Ashley Isham show – PR Fail!
“Asku runs over, so running late I taxi it to Ashley Isham. I arrive to a fashion pack (in the literal sense); a hoard of fashionistas desperate to get into the small on/off venue. A friend at the door says they are waiting for Heidi Montag…not impressed! I decide to call it a day and head to the Ada Zandition after party, where I stay for a couple of hours and then head home for some well deserved sleep! The fashion mania starts all over again in the morning…”
He went, he saw, he wore… here are the rest of Matthew’s fabulous London Fashion Week outfits:
(Shirt, Waistcoat, Jacket, Jeans and Shoes by HLH Harald Lunde Helgesen)
”Harald continues to impress me with how he always finds new ways to re-invent denim. Where he leads, I will always follow!”
(Shirt by Dandan Zhang, jeans: Cos, Shoes: Sanders, Bag: Gianfranco Ferre)
”Ahh, love at first sight! I’d describe DanDan as the ‘new blood’ of this season. The girl is as powerful as her designs- I expect a lot from her.”
”Marios’ suit is the foundation of a great story, where Dimos’ accessories play the colourful main character.”
”Liria’s meticulous work says it all. If Marios on Day 4 was the story and Dimos the main character, Liria is the title!”
(Shirt, Waistcoat and Jacket by MariosAlexander, Jeans: Cos, Shoes: Sanders)
”Perfect cuts, perfect silhouettes, perfect fabrics; Marios’ designs have opened and closed my looks this London Fashion Week, which says it all.”
Words: Jacqueline Anyanwu
Images: Jaymie Ward
Featured Image and Outfit Shots: Jennifer Inglis
Outfit Shot (Day 5): Frances Davison
PR impresario, designer muse and general fashion aficionado, Matthew Zorpas is definitely fashion’s man of the moment (not forgetting Esquire’s second best-dressed British man)!
To celebrate all things fashion month, we’ve asked Matthew, known for championing up-and-coming designers to guest edit our Designer’s Spot. We took a walk in his avant-garde shoes, joined him on fittings and found out which designers we NEEDED to know about, right now…
LFW outfit preview: Appointment with Liria Pristine
We caught up with Matthew a few days before fashion week and joined him at a fitting appointment.
‘Two months before fashion week I do my research and check for new blood in the industry. Graduation fashion weeks, fashion directories and small fashion festivals are in full swing at this time. Before fashion week I get many requests from designers who want to dress me. This year I’ve selected seven… over five days! Somehow I’ll manage it; I may have to result to what I did last year…changing half way through!
I work with a lot of upcoming designers, offering them a platform beyond the catwalk to show their work. Thankfully, because of the blog and my status I have the access to press and buyers.
I offer that exposure back to extremely talented designers who need those key contacts to survive.
Today I’m working with Liria Pristine, a knitwear designer and good friend of mine. I worked with her last year and a photo of me taken by Facehunter got her a lot of coverage. I’m letting her dress me again because I love her craftsmanship and respect her work ethic.”
Matthew will be reviewing LFW shows at: http://unnouveauideal.typepad.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/prwonderland and contact him directly at: email@example.com
Words: Jacqueline Anyanwu
Images: Jaymie Ward
Feature Image: Lefteris PR
Welcome to our inaugural I-Designer feature, our fabulous new vlog spot shot by the designers themselves! We’ve scoured the land to bring you the hottest upcoming labels and asked them to squash everything you need to know into 3 minutes – hurrah!
Kicking off the series are PLAQUE, a design duo hailing from Manchester. Christopher Parnell and Romy Townend joined forces in 2010 to create their womenswear label that focuses on dresses, denim, knitwear and jersey, including a range of unisex T-shirts inspired by antique fairs.
Best let them do the talking:
Introducing 5 Things Every Designer Should Know, a new regular feature where we quiz industry insiders for top tips, practical advice and general pearls of wisdom that they can offer emerging designers. Get ready for golden nuggets aplenty…
“Being a fashion designer is a long term investment” – Becc Gray, Bloody Gray PR.
Kicking off the series is Becc Gray, director at Bloody Gray PR. Small, unconventional and on the BFC’s radar, Bloody Gray has become a network of creatives who nurture and help each other. “If one of my clients doesn’t know something, I put them in touch with another who’s gone through it… it’s simple really!” says Becc. Here are her 5 things that every designer should know:
- Being a fashion designer is a long term investment - it’s not just about making pretty clothes and it doesn’t happen overnight. Always keep your eyes and ears open- you can never be too bold or too smart! Vauxhall Fashion Scout runs great mentioning programmes in PR, sales and production, where you can talk to industry experts and meet other emerging designers.
- Don’t throw yourself into the marketplace before you know what you’re doing. If you don’t have the information to back yourself up, people will think you’re an amateur and their perception of you will stick…they’ll eat you up! Take it one step at a time and assess the market. Get yourself as clued up on production as possible before approaching people. Know what type of PR you want; buyers will watch you over a period of time to see if you are viable.
- Know your target market and what are you trying to achieve. London is one of the hardest places to sell. It’s not the be-all and end-all, so consider other places such as Paris, Japan and New York. Every part of the world has a different market, for example, ready-to-wear sells well in the UK and prints sell well in Asia. Remember that life is not static and things change. What is right now may not necessarily be right next year, and what works in one market might not necessarily work in all. Don’t be arrogant. A lot of designers have great confidence in what they do, but it pays to test the market.
- It is easy to lose yourself when it comes to retail. Hone your brand. If you have not established a substantial name for yourself, don’t branch into a diffusion line. This will also cheapen your brand, so how will other buyers perceive you afterwards?
- Make connections with other designers. Create a community of people who want to help each other- you don’t have to cut everyone off. Open yourself up and don’t turn your nose up at people, because you live and you learn!
Words: Jacqueline Anyanwu